Play the free SuperTuxKart racing game locally or online

Accelerated Fun

Article from Issue 261/2022

Fast-moving fun and original ideas are what characterize the free SuperTuxKart racing game. This article gives readers some playing tips.

If you see a penguin in a racing car driving through Scotland, the Black Forest, or a Zen temple, it can only mean one thing – a round of SuperTuxKart [1]. The racing penguin has a mission to fulfill: Gnu, the grandfather of free software, has been kidnapped by the villain Nolok. Nolok is holding Gnu captive in his lava castle, Fort Magma. Demonstrate your driving skills in various challenges, advance to Fort Magma, and race against Nolok to free Gnu.

On Your Marks

Setting the game up on Linux could hardly be easier: Download the tarball from the website [2] (version 1.3 was released on September 28, 2021) and unzip the file. No installation is required: You simply run the file by typing the sh command in the shell. Alternatively, you can install the game using your distribution's package manager. SuperTuxKart is one of the oldest Linux games and is available from the repositories of all the major distributions. There's even an Android version [3] for mobile devices.


The start screen is clearly laid out (Figure 1). Click on the yellow field in the upper right corner to customize your name and enter the access data for an online account [4] to use multiplayer mode on the Internet.

Figure 1: The clear-cut SuperTuxKart start screen, the gateway to a fun game.

Using the icons in the bottom bar, you can configure settings (wrench icon), look at your best times (crown), read a short explanation of the game (question mark), and start a tutorial (reading Tux), among other things.

The game offers players different modes. In story mode, you'll face various challenges to advance to Fort Magma and free Gnu, who is held captive there. In single-player mode, you'll compete against computer-controlled karts. In split-screen mode, you'll face off against other players on the same PC, with a split screen. In online mode, you can test your driving skills against other players on the local network or on the Internet.


To get the practice you need, it's best to start with a few rounds in single-player mode against the computer before taking on the challenges in the story or competing against other players. To do this, click Single Player on the home screen.

First, decide on a kart (Figure 2), but don't be guided solely by who your favorite character is. The karts have different characteristics and differ in terms of weight, top speed, acceleration, and nitro behavior.

Figure 2: The karts all differ in terms of weight, top speed, acceleration, and nitro behavior. Together these affect the dynamics of the game.

Light karts are more maneuverable than heavy ones, which is an advantage on tracks with many bends. But lightweight karts will send you flying off the track faster if an opponent hits you. On the other hand, heavy karts can reach a higher top speed than the lighter ones, and this gives you an advantage on long, straight tracks.

However, the lightweight karts accelerate faster and use the limited nitro supply more efficiently than heavy karts. This gives you an edge at the start, after an accident, or on a track with many bends. Try out the different variants to familiarize yourself with the characteristics of each.

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